Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Milwaukee Brewers Fire Bullpen Coach Stan Kyles

leave a comment »

Folks, the bad news keeps on coming for the Milwaukee Brewers pitching staff; today, due to a series of several horrible games for many members of the bullpen (including John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez), the Brewers fired bullpen coach Stan Kyles.

I do not approve of this, even though I understand that someone was going to have to take the blame for how poorly the bullpen, as a whole, has done this season.  The Brewers bullpen’s record is 15-26 with a 4.80 ERA, which is the worst in the major leagues.  The Brewers have also blown the most saves in the major leagues — 20 — with 13 of them being blown by closers Rodriguez and Axford alone.  But it’s ridiculous that Kyles, who doesn’t work on mechanics with these pitchers (pitching coach Rick Kranitz does that), and also doesn’t choose which pitcher to bring in (Kranitz and manager Ron Roenicke do that) was thrown to the wolves, mid-season, in a similar manner to how long-time bullpen coach/short-time pitching coach Bill Castro was fired mid-season in 2009.

Look.  There’s another thing in play here that most commentators are completely overlooking.  The fact that Jeff Adcock, who worked as a Brewers groundskeeper for many years and was one of the major bullpen “helpers” — a guy everyone in the bullpen knew, and knew well — died at Miller Park earlier this year certainly has a great deal to do with why the bullpen is underperforming.  This poor man died in front of some of the relievers, and as far as I know, nothing has been done to help any of these men deal with their loss.

Now, maybe the Brewers organization has sent these men to sports psychologists, grief counselors, or have done what they feel needed to be done and it’s still not helped.  But if the Brewers organization hasn’t done this, it should be done now, as it’s possible that if these guys are able to discuss their grief and sadness over this poor man dying without them being able to do anything to affect the outcome that it will help the Brewers on-the-field performance.

My belief is that there’s something that’s gone wrong inside these men’s heads, and that it has nothing to do with their actual ability.  The fact that Axford pitched several innings of sparkling relief when he wasn’t a closer, only to screw up once inserted back into the closing role, makes me think that there’s something else wrong there — and not with his pitching arm.  The fact that K-Rod was good as a set-up man before he was put back into the closer’s role, too, adds credence to my belief.  And finally, as if I needed any further reason for believing the way I do, the strangely inconsistent performance of Kameron Loe (who, if I remember right, was one of those relievers who knew Adcock the best, and may have been in the bullpen when Adcock had his fatal heart attack) since Adcock died makes me believe that he, in particular, needs to discuss his feelings with a priest, counselor, or sports psychologist.  (Or maybe all three.)

What I’m doing my best to remember is that every single one of the Brewers is a human being first, baseball player second.   They’ve all worked very hard to get to the major leagues.  None of them want to screw up, much less screw up royally; all of them want to do well every day, even though they know that’s impossible, and it seems to me that not one of them has any idea why the bullpen has melted down.

Anyway, the Brewers have now made their desperation move by firing their bullpen coach.  But they’d do much better if they got Axford, Rodriguez, Loe, and the other long-term members of the bullpen to psychologists, counselors, or maybe even priests — because I’m convinced that much of what’s gone wrong has little to do with their arms, and everything to do with their heads.

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 30, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: